Our History & Mission

When Mrs. Van Meter visited India in 1965, she found long lines of people waiting not for food, but for books.

She was so moved by her experience that upon returning home, she placed an advertisement in an English-speaking newspaper in India offering to send books to those in need. She received a phenomenal response and started sending books from her basement in 1966. You can learn more about International Book Project’s history by watching our video, the Power of One.

In the 57 years since International Book Project began, the organization has not only grown but also stayed true to its grassroots beginnings. We still send individually crafted small shipments of a few dozen books to small organizations. In the 1990s International Book Project began sending sea containers of 20,000 books to organizations with the infrastructure and capacity to handle a large shipment of books. Since 1966, International Book Project has shipped more than 8 million books to 168 countries around the world.

About Our Founder

Born in 1910, Mrs. Harriet Van Meter had already accomplished a lifetime’s work of social benefit to her community before she founded the International Book Project in 1966. Mrs. Van Meter was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for her efforts to increase world literacy and placed among the eight final nominees. She also received national recognition, such as the 1989 Kiwanis World Service Medal, as well as many regional service awards. In 1992, the International Book Project was chosen as one of twenty (out of 400 organizations) to be recognized as a “Partner for Peace” by President George Bush and former Peace Corps Director Elaine Chao for its support of the U.S. Peace Corps Program. After her death in 1997, Mrs. Van Meter was honored by admission to the permanent “Kentucky Women Remembered” Exhibit. The documentary Harriet Van Meter: A Life Extraordinary was produced in 2006 to celebrate her life and achievements.

Harriet Van Meter: A LIFE EXTRAORDINARY – watch this documentary produced in 2006 by Arthur Rouse and Kiley Lane Parker…

Want to Keep Harriet’s dream alive?